He sat with his eyes fixed on the judge, the right amount of dignity, honesty and humility showing on his face. He was under oath, and his expression indicated nothing but the truth would come from his lips. His answers were slightly hesitant, as if he were making certain the facts were presented correctly, and only those who knew him knew this was the biggest act he had ever put on. Well, perhaps the second biggest: the first had been several years before, when he had embezzled something from his employer, and he had fought for his freedom by trying to sway that judge. Experience in this area really helped.
The ones in the courtroom listened as he told lies, one after another. The woman’s attorney tried to gets the facts straight, but the judge was so gullible that he took each spoken sentence as if it had been in the Holy Writ. She could see the handwriting on the wall, and knew he was destroying her family as surely as if he had a smoking gun in his hand. Who wouldn’t believe that baby face? And she knew, just like she had known several years before when he had lied to the previous judge, that it wasn’t about truth, or caring about people, or any other of the myriad of possibilities: it was about HIM being in control, able to have their lives in his hand, to do with as he desired.
He won. The judge couldn’t see through the lies, and swallowed each one. She was left out on a limb, trying to appear as if this was what had been expected. Justice is not served in the courtrooms of America very often anymore, and she knew it.
As I heard this incident, suddenly Scriptures regarding Satan and his dominance here on earth began to flood my mind. He, the father of lies, had been thrilled with the testimony of the person who sat before the judge, tearing a family apart. It would be so easy to get caught up in the anger, hate and bitterness against someone, when it’s really Satan we’re fighting against (Eph. 6).
Satan comes as an angel of light. And just as the judge believed everything the man’s modest demeanor said under oath, it looked like light. Satan is not red, with a pitchfork and long tail: he was made with such beauty that, after a while, he wanted to be given the majesty, honor and glory that belongs only to God. Do you really think he could have persuaded one-third of the angels created by God to fall, unless he is exceedingly able to sway the powers who rule the world?
Are you one of those who has endured pain, agony, possibly the death of someone you love, at the hands of another? Has gossip touched you, tearing down your life? Perhaps a lie was told, believed, and friends left you? Whatever someone has done to destroy you, you probably cannot fix. The only control you have is your own reaction. It’s easy to desire revenge! It’s WORK to rise above the hurt and forgive, pray for salvation for the perpetrator, or move past their actions, back into a right relationship with God.
The sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church on Sunday, February 12, 2017, was aimed directly at the hundreds in the congregation who have been hurt, seen their family torn apart, relationships damaged to the point of being unable to mend them, and countless other indignities–and undoubtedly it hit a good portion or those attending. For certain, many of us struggle with discouragement because of those who have hurt us deeply, wronged us, or verbally shot us and left us for dead! Do you want to overcome that discouragement? Rise above the anger and let God restore you to a position of joy in your Christian walk? Click on http://www.trbc.org/sermons and pick the last posted sermon (2-12-17) and settle in for a time of searching your heart for any sin that would keep you from a beautiful walk with your Lord. Get your notebook, some friends if possible, and watch the sermon. Listen–if you have time–to the song service, as a special guest blessed everyone with praise focusing on the love and power of God to bring good out of every trial! Then, do the study below, learning what steps can be taken in order to forgive those who have sinned against you. Only by the active, intentional choice to give everything to God, can we gain holy living!
Overflow: Making Room for Life: Forgiveness, Holiness and Peace Pastor Jonathan Falwell
There is probably no one who has not been hurt by the actions of someone else—some very severely, with life-long consequences. Can you think of an example, and how you handled or are handling the situation? If you are by yourself, write your thoughts in a notebook.
Discouragement is a burden that can suffocate our spirit. Last week we looked at that depression which we bring on ourselves, and how we could change our perspective. Today we want to look at the discouragement that comes as a result of actions someone else has initiated toward us, as we choose to take steps to free ourselves from the anger through forgiveness. We want to lay aside the despair, getting our joy and peace back.
Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:14-29
Think About or Discuss:
- Read verses 14-17. What does the word “work” indicate? What other verbs are in these verses? Who is implied as doing the working and watching?
- What is the consequence of unforgiveness in 15b? What steps can you take to forgive those who have hurt you? (The Action Points at the end may help).
- Read Matt. 6:14,15. What is another result of unforgiveness?
- Read 14b. What are some evidences of living a “holy life”? What is the consequence of unholiness?
- Read Eph. 1:13, Heb. 12:15 and 1 Pet. 1:16. What does God expect of us? What is the verb in 14b? The Greek word meant to go after something in such a manner as to attack it! Is that how you “work” to be holy?
- Read 15a. What are you to strive for? What things are you doing at present to “live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18)?
- How does this apply to those who have wronged you?
- Why is it so hard to forgive those who have hurt us (verse 15b)?
A matter of the heart
- Read verse 28. What has God prepared for us? What does God deserve from us? Why?
- Make a list of those whom you need to forgive;
- Put them in order as to the length of time since it happened, or the greatest in pain;
- Do whatever is necessary to actively forgive that person; if you no longer know where they are, ask God to bring them to you, praying for their salvation daily, and sincerely repent and realize you are cleansed;
- Seek to live a holy life, putting the past behind you (Phil. 3:13,14);
- When a new hurt comes along, take care of it immediately;
- Always keep in mind that, as God has forgiven you, so you must forgive others;
- Move on with joy!
As Paul tells us in Romans 17, our sinful nature is at war with our new nature in Christ! It is not natural for us to easily forgive those who hurt us, or worse, hurt those we love most—it takes “work.” Not forgiving leaves us open to the enemy, giving Satan a foothold in our lives, and we can become bitter, which then defiles others. It is imperative that, just as we have been forgiven, so we must forgive those who have sinned against us. It takes prayer and a heart that truly desires a close relationship with God to live in peace with all men. As you saw in the opening verses of this passage, the Christian life is not passive but active; it is not easy, it is “work!” It is not natural, it is godly, and comes from a yearning to be holy. Pray for those on your action list, that they would be saved, coming to a right relationship with God. The more you pray for them, hopefully the more you will find love growing in your heart, and a desire to see them as a repentant Christian brother or sister. Pray for yourself, as well, that you will be the example that others can point to as a follower of Jesus Christ.
Memory Verse: Hebrews 12:14: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.”